I think many questions can be answered (ignoring that this is fiction) by taking into account that their world is not Earth and therefore, despite appearances, they are not actually human. I don't think this is something that will ever be part of the story -- the characters in GoT have no idea of where they are or the existence of Earth -- indeed, in their universe there may well be no Earth.

It makes a difference in the sense that many questions about the plausibility of something happening, like people being brought back to life, increases when one accepts that this is not Earth and so these are not humans.

  • 18
    It's magic, it doesn't need to be that plausible. The question is whether it's been pushed too far for your suspension of disbelief. Have they used too much magic, it sounds like for you that boundary has been broken.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 9:24
  • 31
    Why do you assume that if it is not Earth, then they cannot possibly be human? Zillions of fantasy books have been set on what does not seem to be our own Planet Earth (neither in the past nor in the future), but with characters who are stated or implied to be "human," even if no historical connection to the people of Earth is ever referred to. Why should GRRM's characters be any different?
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 10:56
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    So it being not our Earth finally explains why the White Walkers are not storming Norway after all.
    – user73079
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 13:02
  • 1
    There are at least two different types of human in the world of GoT, then Andals who come to Westeros from Essos through Dorne, and the First Men who came from the North. However, by all accounts they are 100% genetically compatible, so they could simply be two different races of the same species.
    – SGR
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 13:48
  • 6
    If think it gets to philosophy there. In fantasy it's pretty arbitrary who is called human.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


The people are referred to as men, humans and living ones numerous times. They are men, not some fictional race like elves or dwarves or ents etc. Just because their world isn't Earth (Even though it has been referred to as earth, but there are grammatical differences between Earth and earth), doesn't mean they aren't humans.

GRRM has answered the question about what exactly is the World set in ASOIAF.

This may be a silly question, but: When you think of the world you’ve created, where seasons last for years, where is it? It is another planet?

It’s what Tolkien wrote was “the secondary world.” It’s not another planet. It’s Earth. But it’s not our Earth. If you wanted to do a science fiction approach, you could call it an alternate world, but that sounds too science fictional. Tolkien really pioneered that with Middle Earth. He put in some vague things about tying it to our past, but that doesn’t really hold up. I have people constantly writing me with science fiction theories about the seasons — “It’s a double star system with a black dwarf and that would explain–” It’s fantasy, man, it’s magic.

Also on the Planet's size and being round he said:

3) Is your world round. I mean if Dany traveled far enough east couldnt she come to the other side of westeros?

Yes, the world is round. Might be a little larger than ours, though. I was thinking more like Vance's Big Planet.... but don't hold me to that.

People being brought back to life is magic, not some physical capability exclusive to some non human species. As GRRM says, It’s fantasy, man, it’s magic.

  • 2
    @Malandy Humans are humans by all available evidence. The only exceptions are some of the Targaryens (fire resistant) which suggests some non-human lineage. The giants, and children of the forest are non-human. The White Walkers are not really human any more but there is a suggestion that they may have been created out of humans.
    – Tim B
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:30
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    @TimB it's been said again and again that Targaryens are not fire resistant. What happenned with Dany is a one time magical thing. See scifi.stackexchange.com/a/37473/84138
    – Rosme
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:36
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    @TimB No Targaryens aren't fireproof.Dany being unburnt is a miraculous one time event. Plenty of Targaryens died of burns. Author has been clear on this. White Walkers themselves are a distinct species in the books, in the show they are converted men
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:36
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    @Rosme Dany at least twice, and hints in other place. She used it both when the dragons were hatched and when she was captured by the Dothraki and burning down the house around her. There was also a scene where she entered a bath that was too hot with no sign of discomfort and the scene where she took the hot eggs from the fire but they burnt her handmaiden..... I can't speak to the books as I haven't read them so my comment is specific to the show.
    – Tim B
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:41
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    @TimB I have actually answered a question on specifically multiple instances of fire immunity. Dany liking hot water is not something special, I do as well, I am not blood of the dragon. The dragons however don't feel heat like others do e.g Aegon V used to be very cool in heat. Dany was the same. And they have better immunity from disease, at least dany does. The house thing is show only event, not a books event so GRRM cant be blamed
    – Aegon
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:50

It is true that magical nature of A Song of Ice and Fire purposes a different set of quantum mechanics than our real world humans of Earth, but since you have not defined your intended definition of being human outside of a location for humans to exist (Earth), you have to consider all of the things that make someone human whether on a biological level (homo sapiens) or a conscious level (sentient) or emotional level (qualities and characteristics of human beings: social/cultural anthropology) and that doesn't necessarily rely on "where" a human is from...

IMO most of the characters presented in the work have human qualities, despite whether they are textbook human or not by reacting to their experiences in ways the reader or viewer can relate to.

However, I do think the magical nature of the universe, including characters human and/or otherwise either existing in states between life and death (Lady Stoneheart, TV series White Walkers, army of the dead), or some characters that can metaphysically transform (wargs, glamour magic, reincarnation), or are from a non-human lineage (Targaryens) are all included in the work to make us question what identity is, as there are arguments and mysteries presented through out the work about whom any of these characters really are or if what they believe is the absolute truth. There then is a question if identity or concerns over identity is also inherently a human trait?

This is furthered by notions that there may be some predetermination (ie: Hodor's Paradox) in which all of the characters may be at the expense of cycle cosmology (fate) and have little control over their fates, despite what any of them believe to be true. This doesn't really make then less human (figuratively speaking) however, because no single character is all powerful and all knowing, which is still true to how most of people of Earth experience life.

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